The UNAM-droplet freezing assay: An evaluation of the ice nucleating capacity of the sea-surface microlayer and surface mixed layer in tropical and subpolar waters

Abstract

Ice nucleating particles (INPs) in the atmosphere are necessary to generate ice crystals in mixed-phase clouds, a crucial component for precipitation development. The sources and composition of INPs are varied: from mineral dust derived from continental erosion to bioaerosols resulting from bubble bursting at the ocean surface. The performance of a home-built droplet freezing assay (DFA) device for quantifying the ice nucleating abilities of water samples via immersion freezing has been validated against both published results and analyses of samples from sea surface microlayer (SML) and bulk surface water (BSW) from the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) and Saanich Inlet, off Vancouver Island (VI), Canada. Even in the absence of phytoplankton blooms, all the samples contained INPs at moderate concentrations, ranging from 6.0 × 101 to 1.1 × 105 L–1 water. The freezing temperatures (i.e., T50, the temperature at which 50% of the droplets freeze) of the samples decreased in order of VI SML > GoM BSW > GoM SML, indicating that the higher-latitude coastal waters have a greater potential to initiate cloud formation and precipitation.

Description

© 2022 Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Ciencias de la Atmósfera y Cambio Climático.This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) cc-by-nc

Keywords

Droplet freezing assay, Gulf of mexico, Ice nucleation, Mixed-phase clouds, Sea surface microlayer

Citation

Ladino, L.A., Juarez-Perez, J., Ramirez-Diaz, Z., Miller, L.A., Herrera, J., Raga, G.B., Simpson, K.G., Cruz, G., Pereira, D.L., & Cordoba, F.. 2022. The UNAM-droplet freezing assay: An evaluation of the ice nucleating capacity of the sea-surface microlayer and surface mixed layer in tropical and subpolar waters. Atmosfera, 35(1). https://doi.org/10.20937/ATM.52938

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